With european cycling caught up in a morass of doping scandals, and seemingly unending battles
easy to forget why we love cycling. Meet Dan Sheret, a funny and unassuming man who reminded me of
the beauty and purity of a man and his bike.
felt that things happen for a reason and one day I was on my little
country property in Oregon, and I stepped over a fence, and
shattered my leg and the next thing I became an amputee. It happened
for a reason and that I had an obligation to do what I could do to
help other people.”
Amputee endurance cyclist Dan Sheret
is set to circumnavigate the globe, by bicycle, to help raise
awareness and funds for landmine victims around the world. He
started his fourteen-month journey, named AbilityTrek, on June 1st
in Washington, DC.
“My goal,” said Sheret, “is
to bring hope and awareness to amputees in need throughout the
developing world and also raise funding to assist the great work
that is being done to aid landmine victims and other amputees."
Dan Sheret on a training ride in Washington, DC
Photo courtesy AbilityTrek.org
He was escorted from the nation's
capital by the Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team, a primary sponsor of
the trek, and embarked on his 66-day crossing of the United States
which is scheduled to end in San Francisco, CA on July 25, 2007. In
the early fall, Sheret will travel to Southeast Asia and continue his
world odyssey through China, Russia, Europe and the Middle East. His
trek will cover
16,000 miles and
caught up with the 45-year old Sheret the day after he had just climbed
Lookout Mountain in Georgia and was resting at a campground in
Tennessee. During his final climb, he was followed and paced by a
cougar. “I had just walked 2 miles up this hill, no this
mountain and I was not going to get on that bike and run down that
hill, it was mine.” Sheret gathered a few stones and threw them
in the direction of the cougar (and did not hit him). “I was
bound and determined yesterday, after a very long day that I was
going to stay on top of the food chain.”
was not a cyclist nor an athlete before his accident. “I was a
little fat 40-year old furniture maker. Seriously.”
his amputation, he walked with a cane and then couldn't walk for 2
years, and his weight shot up to 215 pounds. But once he received
his prosthesis, he worked with mentor and now good friend Steve, in
Oregon, to get back into shape.
started cycling and was doing about 20 miles a day, and
during a conversation at an amputee convention in Anaheim, he
commented to somebody “you know I'm cycling 20 miles a day I
feel so good about what I'm doing that I could cycle across America.”
The response was the expected “no, you can't do that”
and “I went really? well let's see about that.”
So a couple of months following that
seemingly benign exchange, Sheret took a professional tour, America
by bike and cycled across America. The second time across the country
in 2003, he decided to do the journey with no support - no SAG wagon,
no one to carry his luggage - as he wanted to incorporate his
childhood love of camping and of the outdoors with his adult
there, he continued to cycle, and has led multiple amputee teams in
America, and Europe to raise awareness and hope. For Sheret, cycling
is a frame of mobility and as a low impact sport is perfect
for people with disabilities.
AbilityTrek email flyer
the story wasn't finished yet.” replied Sheret when asked why
do it again after his first trip across America.
still things to see and do, I reached a lot of the people in the US
but I started to understand that there were a lot of amputees around
the world that were in even worse straights.”
day last winter, while sitting around the kitchen table, his
partner Julia asked what his plans were for the summer, and
“Well I said one thing that I've always wanted to do is to go
around the world and try to find some charities that were
worthwhile that I can do what I do and hopefully help support. “
is raising awareness and funding for two charities.
Clear Path International which serves landmine and bomb accident survivors,
their families and their communities. This assistance takes the form of direct
medical and social services to survivors and their families as well as equipment
support to hospitals. The current projects are in Vietnam, Cambodia and on the Thai-Burma border.
The Rotary Club of Montgomery Village (MD), in association with many partnering
Rotary Clubs and organizations, including Physicians for Peace and Hanger Orthopedic Group,
is working with the Iraqi Ministry of Health to bring aid to the amputees of war-torn Basra, Iraq.
The numbers of amputees in Iraq rise as innocent civilians fall victim to landmines, bombs,
and insurgent attacks. Healthcare in Iraq is barely accessible and of poor quality;
funding for medical equipment, training of physicians and prosthetists, and sourcing of
used prosthesis, are desperately needed to improve the quality of life for these amputees.
Security concerns dictate that this work was undertaken in Amman, Jordan.
The long term objective of this all volunteer mission, is to help reestablish Prosthetic Centers in
Basra and throughout Iraq.
been about realizing some of the great organizations that are
working tirelessly and often outside of the public eye both here in
the US and worldwide, they are helping people and I thought that
this trip and what I could do, could raise awareness and hope with
funding for them.”
a self-imposed rule, Sheret decided that none of the funds raised
were to be used for his living expenses as he wanted to see that
the money went to the people that were in need.
he did manage to feed and clothe himself. “You
have to have a little bit of faith that the universe is going to
provide and so far it has.” He started this trek with about 2
thousand dollars to get across America, and everyday someone is
willing to help out in one way or another and he has managed to round up a group of
supportive sponsors to assist with his worthwhile endeavor.
did a pro team get involved?
Dan Sheret and Toyota-United team members, Ivan Stevic and Henk Vogels
Photo courtesy AbilityTrek.org
wrote to 14 professional cycling teams that raced in the US asking
for a signed team jersey that could be auctioned off to raise funds. He got
turned down by 13 of the teams, but the fourteenth
reply was different. Sean Tucker, owner of Toyota-United Pro Cycling team replied with a 'I
think we can do a little better than that' and provided Sheret
with gear and clothing and a “tremendous amount of support”.
“Everybody at Toyota-United is just awesome.” Continuing with chuckle,
Sheret added “I think they (riders)
are a little afraid that Mr Tucker is going to add
a trailer behind their bike for training.”
of strangers and managing loneliness and pain
Loneliness will be present while riding mostly alone for 12 to 14
months. “You're going to have dark nights of the soul, and the
thing is it's usually short-lived and by morning or the next day,
something happens and you just realize that what you are doing is
important and you just muster on.”
According to Sheret, there are two things to know about being an amputee
and pain. One is that there will always be one form or another of
discomfort and pain, it's just a matter of severity. And the other is the fact that
sleepless night happen because the body needs to make adjustments
to what has happen during the day as far as volume flow and things
with the residual limb. “And so it's the nature of the beast
and it's kind of what you sign up for and it's what you have to do.
It's not a bad thing, it's no different than anybody else having a
Sheret has had issues with motorists with tobacco cups and other
things thrown at him in Georgia, but “every time it starts
getting tough, and you get frustrated, there is this little act of
kindness that comes out and it makes all worthwhile.”
For example, a business woman stopped in front of him on the road
and offered some water. Or a man stopped by while Sheret was
drinking a coffee at a coffee shop, and gave him a gift certificate
while saying “ I saw you 30 miles back and you're an
Want to help? Want to follow Dan Sheret on his trek?
Make a donation via is website
Look at the route, come out and bring water, food and a little
conversation to Dan on the road. Send an email “because it does
get lonely on the road and it's good to communicate with people.”
Photo c. AbilityTrek.org
One of the biggest supporter is his partner Julia, who manages the
project and has set up a companion children's site
that is being translated in multiple languages and is being read in
21 countries. It is a wonderful educational tool as it provides not
only updates on Sheret's trek but math, history and culture.
It's just a delight, and once I'm out of the USA, I can't wait to see
her creativity and what she (Julia) does there.”
Sheret and AbilityTrek are sponsored by: Arkel Pannier Manufacturers,
Polar Bottles, Sharklids Eye Gear, Toyota United Pro Cycling Team,
Mountain House Foods, O and P Edge and Adventure Cycle Association
Dan Sheret and his trusted stead Tuck
Photo courtesy AbilityTrek.org